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The Laments (Paperback)

Author:  George Hagen
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Learn more about The Laments:

Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 081297218X
ISBN-13: 9780812972184
Sku: 31166613
Publish Date: 4/10/2007
Pages:  400
Age Range:  NA
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Meet the Laments--the affably dysfunctional globetrotting family at the center of George Hagen's exuberant debut novel.
Howard is an engineer who dreams of irrigating the Sahara and lives by the motto "Laments move!" His wife Julia is a fiery spirit who must balance her husband's oddly peripatetic nature with unexpected aspirations of her own. And Will is the "waif with a paper-thin heart" who is given to Howard and Julia in return for their own child who has been lost in a bizarre maternity ward mishap. As Will makes his way from infancy to manhood in a family that careens from continent to continent, one wonders where the Laments will ever belong.
In Bahrain, Howard takes a job with an oil company and young Will makes his first friend. But in short order he is wrenched off to another land, his mother's complicated friendship with the American siren Trixie Howitzer causing the family to bolt. In Northern Rhodesia, during its last days as a white colony, the twin enfants terribles Marcus and Julius are born, and Will falls for the gardener's daughter, a girl so vain that she admires her image in the lid of a biscuit tin. But soon the family's life is upturned again, thie time by their neighbor Major Buck Quinn, with his suburban tirades against black self-rule. Envisioning a more civilized life on "the sceptered isle," the Laments board an ocean liner bound for England. Alas, poor Will is greeted by the tribal ferocity of his schoolmates and a society fixated on the Blitz. No sooner has he succumbed to British pop culture in the guise of mop-top Sally Byrd and her stacks of 45s, than the Laments uproot themselves once again, and it's off to New Jersey, where life deals crisisand opportunity in equal measure.
Undeniably eccentric, the Laments are also universal. Every family moves on in life. Children grow up, things are left behind; there is always something to lament. Through the Lament's restlessness, responses to adversity, and especially their unwieldy love for one another, George Hagen gives us a portrait of every family that is funny, tragic, and improbably true.

"From the Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher:
Secretly switched at birth and then adopted into the Laments family, Will journeys through three continents with his parents and fractious twin brothers while struggling with multiple relationships and a faltering sense of identity. A first novel.
The Lament family is the focus for this novel by a South African writer now living in Brooklyn. The story begins when a baby named Will is adopted by Howard and Julia Lament, who then produce twin boys. Howard's engineering job takes the family to various parts of the globe, ending up finally in a New Jersey suburb. The novel follows Will's life as he struggles to discover who he is in the context of both the very eccentric Lament family and the rest of the world.


Kirkus Reviews
"Newcomer Hagen's understanding of the mix of love, banality, humor, and sadness that are the features of family life is deep and nearly flawless: a lovely book." 05/01/2004

New York Times
"As a light, charming first novel about a memorably eccentric family it has obvious appeal; this is an enjoyable, inviting book liable to attract attention....Mr. Hagen has shaped an affectionate family portrait in which the characters come vividly to life....The Lament parents are especially memorable....Each of them sees new opportunity eternally on the horizon in ways that have the potential to make this a story of crushing disappointment. But Mr. Hagen somehow endows it with brightness and finds a universality here, too." - Janet Maslin 06/10/2004

New York Times Book Review
"[There is an admirable and enviable range and ambition in THE LAMENTS, and something lucidly democratic in the novel's insistence that a wandering life grants perspectives and perceptions that stay-at-homes can't achieve....[T]he appearance of George Hagen on the literary scene is a gain for readers everywhere." - Jonathan Wilson 08/22/2004

Product Attributes

Product attributeBook Format:   Paperback
Product attributeNumber of Pages:   0400
Product attributePublisher:   Random House Trade
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